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Last Updated:  Thursday, 10 April, 2003, 13:56 GMT 14:56 UK
Murder squad hunt fugitive robber
Vincent Palmer
Police want to speak to Vincent Palmer about a murder
Police have named a fugitive armed robber they want to question about the murder of a haulage contractor who was shot in the chest.

West Midlands Police said officers were anxious to trace 37-year-old Vincent Michael Palmer in connection with the death of divorced father-of-two Martin Silvester.

The 34-year-old ex-soldier, from Great Bridge, Tipton, was pistol-whipped and shot through the heart at close range in Pikehelve Street, Wednesbury, shortly before midnight on 21 August 2001.

Detective Inspector Iain O'Brien, speaking after an inquest on the death of Mr Silvester, said a 10,000 police reward was on offer for information leading to Palmer's arrest.

Martin Silvester
Martin Silvester was gunned down near to his haulage business

The detective said Palmer had spent almost six years "on the run" after escaping from custody while serving a 13-year sentence for robbery and firearms offences.

"Palmer is a dangerous man who needs to be caught and brought back into custody," the officer said.

"Aside from the fact he is already unlawfully at large we now have intelligence which means we need to speak to him about the murder of Mr Silvester.

"His history would indicate that has access to firearms and that he is of a violent disposition.

"I wish to speak to him about this matter to decide whether we can eliminate him from our inquiry."

Friends and criminal associates

Palmer has been at large since escaping from Birmingham Crown Court on 30 June 1997.

Detectives believe Palmer has maintained contact with and visited friends and criminal associates in the Birmingham and West Bromwich area.

Sandwell Coroner Robin Balmain, sitting at Smethwick Town Hall, recorded a verdict of unlawful killing after hearing how Mr Silvester was fatally wounded near his business premises, Wednesbury Logistical Services.

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